…is a native Cardiffian, and went to school there at St Peter’s and St Illtyd’s College – in the last year of the 11+ exam and the first year of the new school at Rumney (now the old school at Rumney!!). It was at Downing College, University of Cambridge, where he was reading Modern Languages, that he felt the call to the priesthood. Archbishop John Murphy sent him to the Beda College seminary in Rome, where he was ordained deacon in 1977 by Bishop (later Cardinal) Edouard Gagnon. The next year, on April 1st (no jokes please) he was ordained priest at none other than St Brigid’s Church.
He spent three years as curate (assistant priest) at St Therese, Port Talbot and St Francis, Ely, Cardiff, and was then made parish priest of St Cuthbert’s. Cardiff Docks in 1981 at the tender age of 28. Here he was also chaplain to the prison and the port. The arrival of a new Archbishop, John Aloysius Ward OFM Cap., in 1983, saw Fr Matthew’s departure for leafy Ledbury in Herefordshire, on the very edge of our archdiocese. But only three years later he answered the Archbishop’s “invitation” to do further studies in Canon Law at St Paul University, Ottawa in Canada. There he got involved with a wonderful parish – St Mary’s and helped at the beginning of a new religious order, the Companions of the Cross.
On his return to South Wales he was made parish priest of St Clare’s, Ely in 1988, which was joined to St Francis the next year, bringing Fr Matthew back to where he had lived eight years previously. He also began to use his Canon Law in the Cardiff Inter-diocesan Marriage Tribunal. After some eight years he was asked to move to Penarth parish at a difficult time in 1997. Later that year this was joined to Dinas Powys parish, and the late Fr Andrew Maggs joined Fr Matthew. With this job done, he moved back to the city and St Cadoc’s, Llanrumney in early 2000, where he got involved with St Illtyd’s High School, his old school. Finally the next Archbishop, Peter Smith, asked him to come to our 3 Churches in September 2004,
Fr Matthew was elected chairman of the archdiocesan Council of Priests in 2005 and re-elected in 2008. The Council has been reconvened by our new Archbishop George Stack, who asked Fr Matthew to chair its first meetings. Archbishop Peter made him a canon of the cathedral chapter in 2006, and in 2007 the three Bishops of Wales appointed him Judicial Vicar (head) of the new joint National Tribunal for Wales. This covers all three Welsh dioceses of Cardiff, Menevia and Wrexham, and means that Fr Matthew unusually has an “office” or post in all three dioceses. Fr Matthew has also been involved in leading the Cardiff Fraternity of Priests, a prayer and support group for priests that has been meeting every fortnight since 1989. He broadcasts regularly, giving “Wednesday Word” talks on BBC Wales’ “Roy Noble Show”, and doing other occasional work for the BBC.
Fr Matthew loves travelling – he was originally going to work in tourism and travel. Scenery, old towns and cities, cathedrals and castles, architecture… here and abroad. In 2009 he visited the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, including the town of Klaipeda, the home of his great-grandfather, and led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 2010 saw him visiting Milan and its surroundings, and the September Pilgrimage went to Krakow and southern Poland “In the Footsteps of John Paul II”. In 2011 the September Pilgrims had a wonderful time in Provence in France, staying in Arles, while Fr Matthew took his own holiday in Munich and the German Alps. Last year Fr Matthew visted Bruges and area, and the September Plgrims returned to Assisi and went on to tour northern Tuscany.
Music of many sorts has been a favourite since he sang in the Cathedral choir as a boy. In recent years he has delved into his family history, currrently having over 3,000 individuals on his family tree – most of them VERY distant relations! If you think you are related to Fr Matthew – let him know, and he’ll add you in!
Fr Matthew has a married brother living in Leamington Spa and a married sister with three sons living in Farnborough, Hampshire. In June 2013 Fr Matthew invited the parishioners of the 3 Churches to join him and his family in celebrating his 60th birthday.